Preachers, Politics and the Pulpit: The Influence of Church Structure on How Clergy Approach Political Topics and How Congregations Receive Their Messages
Inspired by the Catholic Church’s nationwide resistance to President Obama’s contraceptive mandate in the summer of 2012, this honors thesis paper attempts to discover a link between church polity (or church structure) and whether political messages are more or less likely to be preached by clergy from the pulpit and accepted by their congregants. Given that churches are places where attendees are exposed to political messages, this paper hypothesizes that structurally centralized Christian denominations are more likely to have preached on the contraceptive mandate than decentralized denominations. Accordingly, it is assumed that Catholics are more likely to have heard about the mandate than mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants. Additionally, I suppose that clergy who oppose the mandate will be more likely to have addressed the mandate from the pulpit than those who support it. Finally, it is assumed that Catholics will be more likely to oppose the mandate than evangelical Protestants who are more likely to oppose the mandate than mainline Protestants. I gather primary data via semi-structured interviews with clergy from six select denominations with different church governance polities and theological views. Secondary data was obtained from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press’s February 2012 Political Survey concerning self-identified Christians’ views regarding the mandate. I find that church structure and views on the mandate had no bearing on whether Protestant pastors addressed it (though all Catholic priests did so) and that church attendance has little influence on how congregants view it.
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Political Science | Religion
Bender, Michael, "Preachers, Politics and the Pulpit: The Influence of Church Structure on How Clergy Approach Political Topics and How Congregations Receive Their Messages" (2016). Honors Theses. 79.